The Temptations of Saint Anthony

Well, it’s no longer where I am, though may be still where some of you are, but June 13th is th Feast of St. Anthony.  In Madrid there is a famous church known as the Real Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida which is notable artistically because Goya painted its dome.  It’s a pretty chapel close to the banks of the Manzanares River and stands just a few yards away from one of Madrid’s classic Asturian restaurants, Casa Mingo.   San Antonio is the site of one of Madrid’s most curious traditions.  On this day droves of weddable women march down to see if this year will be their lucky year.  How do they do it?  By praying a lot?  By competing in a wet t-shirt contest?  By bidding in a beefy-cakes auction?  Nope.  They do it by placing their hands on a pile of pins and then lifting them to see how many get stuck on the flesh.  That number indicates the number of boyfriends they will have that year.  I was planning on going down to check it out, but that might have been a risky decision given my state.

       But I will tell you a funny tale, true from all I can tell, about a woman who went year after year but returned home with her hands unpunctured and her morale at her feet.  She even had a little figure of St. Anthony in her room to whom she would pray before leaving for the church.  One year, she went down, waited in line, carried out the whole ritual, but once again, to no avail.  She became so enraged by her frustrated success, that she stomped back straight home, burst into her room, wiped her tears from her cheeks, grabbed the statuette made a brief discourse in favor of atheism and tossed it out the window…only to discover that it had fallen on the head of some unsuspecting passerby.  Startled and mortified, she raced downstairs and out the door to assist the victim, who turned out to be a young man.  He was naturally a bit unnerved by the air attack, but soon the mishap turned into a conversation, then a chat, and eventually a date.  They ended up getting married.

           I loved the story so much I turned it into a novel.  My first completed one, in fact, written about twelve years ago.  And it’s awful.  If I haven’t burned it it’s because I want to keep it as testimony of how not to write.  But I have to say I’ve been tempted. 

           Enjoy your day. 


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